Learn all about digital marketing, we have built this glossary to help you understand everything to thrive in online marketing and promoting your website or business.
What is Robots.txt?
Robots.txt, often called the robots exclusion protocol, is a text file webmasters create to instruct robots, typically search engine robots, how to crawl and index pages on their website. It's part of the robots exclusion protocol (REP), a group of web standards that regulate how robots crawl the web, access and index content, and serves the searched content to users.
The Robots.txt file is essential, as it can allow or deny a search engine access to different parts of a website. It is typically stored at the root of the website and indicates those parts of the site you don’t want accessed by search engine crawlers.
While it's not a mandatory element, not having a Robots.txt file can have negative implications on how the search engines crawl and index your site, thereby impacting the overall SEO performance.
Robots.txt's Role in Digital Marketing
In digital marketing, effective use of Robots.txt can contribute to a strategic SEO. It can prevent crawling of duplicate content on your site, avoiding the risk of being penalized for duplicate content by search engines.
Robots.txt also helps to block internal search result pages from being indexed, stopping the crawler wasting time indexing irrelevant pages, and allowing it to index more important pages efficiently.
A well-optimized Robots.txt file will indicate to the search engines which parts of your site are important and relevant, thereby improving how your site is represented in the search engine lists.
A common use of Robots.txt is disallowing a search engine from crawling and indexing certain sections of your site. For instance, you might want to avoid indexing of your website's back-end files. This could be implemented as 'User-agent: Googlebot, Disallow: /wp-admin/'.
Another case is when you want to disallow all web robots from crawling sections of your site. The syntax would look something like this: 'User-agent: *, Disallow: /private/'.
It's also possible to disallow crawling of your entire site. Though not typically recommended, it can be necessary in certain circumstances. The syntax in this case would be: 'User-agent: *, Disallow: /'.'